MAKING MEANING WITH MS
People ask me what did I do when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? I tell them I went to work as a radio news anchor in New York City.
Well, that’s the short version of it. But ultimately that is where I landed, with a career far better than I had ever imagined, despite MS...OR maybe because of MS. The challenge propelled me forward. I needed to live out my dreams...AND I did!
I was living in Philadelphia and working as a morning news anchor when I was diagnosed in February of 1993. I was on the air at WWDB-96.5 FM-The Talk Station when I had my first symptoms. Letters of words in my news copy were suddenly and sporadically disappearing from my field of vision. Then they would return. That same weekend, I had a press pass to attend a celebrity golf tournament where Michael Jordan would be participating. I woke up with numbness in my feet. I went to the event and by the end of the day, I was numb from my feet to my upper chest.
Those symptoms continued as did the hospitalizations, every month for the next year. In addition, I felt awful radiating nerve pain down my back that made sitting in my news chair difficult. Eventually, sadly, I decided to leave my major market Philly job and return to my hometown area and my job in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton radio. Yes, I gave up that major market job but not the dream of making it to New York.
More importantly, I chose to surround myself with friends/colleagues who continued to believe in me. One of them was Dave Vanderslice from Metro Networks in Philadelphia. He sent one of my newscast airchecks to Metro Networks in New York, who was looking for an anchor to do news overnights on WOR Radio.
Where was I when this was happening? ...in a bed at Temple hospital in Philadelphia, getting IV steroids, again. I checked my voicemail messages and there was an invitation from Metro New York inviting to come in for an interview. I immediately called the number and said YES I am interested! Sitting by my side, hearing the conversation, my dear Mother said “how can you go for an interview? You can’t see??”
You see, my hospitalization was for optic neuritis, causing temporary blindness in BOTH eyes. But my Mom also knew me. There was no way I would miss that interview!
Two weeks later, the steroids had kicked in. I went to that interview, and I was hired for my first of 3 news anchor jobs in New York. I worked 16 years as an anchor at 1010 WINS and 10 years as a freelance network anchor for ABC News Radio, heard nationwide. I lived my career dreams for more than 20 years AFTER diagnosis. All of it possible due to my faith in God, a Mother and people around me with faith in me AND finding the best doctor and multiple sclerosis research center anywhere, Dr. Saud Sadiq and Tisch MSRCNY.